THE THIRD PART OF BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY IN YEARS (1995-2020)
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H I S T O R Y
AEROSMITH found themselves in a carousel of confusions, intrigues, great changes, termination of some collaboration, returns and new beginnings. They had already experienced all of it many times during their career before, but this time on a completely different level. The resumption of collaboration with their previous record company was an encouragement and a guarantee of a better tomorrow for the band while facing unfavorable circumstances. The change of record company was, of course, sweetened by a lucrative offer. Columbia / Sony valued AEROSMITH at $ 30 million and offered the musicians a contract that was certainly impossible to reject. AEROSMITH returned under the wing of a record company that had stood by their side at the time of their beginnings in Boston and under whose banner the first seven albums were released. AEROSMITH has received tremendous support from their record company. Not only was it a mutually beneficial deal which was finally accomplished after several years due to the contract with a previous label, but everyone who worked for the record company was primarily a huge fan of AEROSMITH and believed in the band immensely.
The year of 1995 is for AEROSMITH marked by the preparations of a new album, in which the drummer Joey Kramer did not participate in its first phase. At that time, he was struggling with severe depressive states. After the death of his father, everything that had accumulated inside him throughout his life and could no longer be ignored, came to the surface. Unsuspecting and 2,000 miles away from the other members of the band, he undergoes treatment. This was disrupted by the sudden news of recording the basics of a new album with a replacement drummer. Longtime manager Tim Collins handled the situation in his way and tried to get rid of Joey Kramer without the band having any idea about his actions. In general, he tried to keep the musicians apart so that he had everything under total control. In this way he could more easily control and manipulate them all. He conveyed information to Joey in a way that made him feel that his longtime partners in the band had become his enemies. No one in the band called him and no one in his eyes was interested in finding out what was happening to him and how he was doing. Joey received a cruel message from the manager, which fortunately later became clear, and Collins’s disgusting intention turned against himself. The other members were forbidden to contact Joey, allegedly in his best interest.
Joey Kramer was undergoing treatment in California, while AEROSMITH were working on new songs at the Criteria studio in Miami, Florida. Glen Ballard took over the production chair. He is best known as the songwriter and producer of ALANIS MORISSETTE’s 1995 album “Jagged Little Pill”, which got two Grammy awards: Best Rock Album of the Year and Album of the Year. Glen Ballard also co-wrote MICHAEL JACKSON’s albums: “Thriller”, “Bad” and “Dangerous”. Joey’s parts were taken care of by the hired drummer of English origin Steve Ferrone, who was the band member of TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS from 1994 to 2017. Glen Ballard co-wrote three songs that eventually appeared on the final version of “Nine Lives”: “Pink”, “Taste of India” and “Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)”, which was also released as the first single. However, the recordings made in the Criteria studio did not meet with a favorable response. According to the reactions, AEROSMITH sounded homogeneous, the songs lacked drive and their typical sound. Not even John Kalodner, Columbia’s A&R director, was satisfied with the result, saying that they were not AEROSMITH as he knew them. It was recorded digitally, which was faster, but not as authentic as recording using analog systems. Steven Tyler wasn’t happy with the idea of remaking the songs again. He was totally immersed in creativity during the creative process, and he was thrilled with the result of his collaboration with Glen Ballard. Nevertheless, the original versions of the songs did not pass muster and there was nothing left but to come up with a new plan. For a smoother continuation, it was essential to settle the relationships in the band and resolve the issue of management.
“Five dedicated musicians. You can’t put it in a box, or a glass or a bottle. It happens because the five of us get together and do what we do. You can’t change the formula. And, to me, we are the biggest fans of what it is. So, we just keep going to the show.“
Tim Collins, who had been AEROSMITH’s manager for twelve years at the time, helped the musicians in many ways. He was standing by the band at a time when the whole music world almost gave up on them. It was he who persuaded the musicians to undergo treatment and supervised them throughout the process to bring it to a successful end. AEROSMITH turned the situation around, literally rising from the ashes and conquering the world in a noble way. Suddenly, thanks to the same person they considered as part of the band, they found themselves on thin ice which could break at any moment and everything would be over. Tim Collins set the musicians a huge test of their bond. Not only did he intrigue among members to whom he individually provided different versions, full of lies. He went even further and involved their wives in his game, trying to get them to fight amongst themselves and against their husbands. The band was forced not to communicate with Steven Tyler and to write him a reproachful letter in which he was distrusted due to alleged addiction to drugs, sexual adventures and lack of interest in the band. The manager used facts from the past rather than something that would have happened at the time. Tim Collins certainly overestimated his abilities and didn’t realize that AEROSMITH had been through a lot throughout the decades, and whatever was going on, they always tried to move on together and not lose faith in what they began to build as a bunch of enthusiastic musicians in the beginning of the 70s. Under the supervision of therapist Steve Chatoff, they underwent two weeks of therapy together and talked everything through. All the intrigues and manipulations by Tim Collins were revealed. The band had no interest in continuing with him. Of course, this decision did not go unanswered. Tim Collins contacted all the major media and claimed that the musicians were on drugs again and a lot of other slanders that caused considerable damage not only to the band, but also in their private lives.
Wendy Laister became the new manager of AEROSMITH in August 1996, having previously taken care of the band’s publicity for three years. Wendy was the first woman in the music industry to manage a band of AEROSMITH format, and Bart Goldstein became their sales manager. AEROSMITH were back in full force, together and again with their permanent drummer, Joey Kramer, who concluded this notso-happy period around Tim Collins’ intrigues in his book “Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top” with the words, “It wasn’t the first time AEROSMITH had sold its soul to this kind of devil.” What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and so AEROSMITH could finally drag themselves into the next step of the recording process. In the fall of 1996, they went to Avatar Studios in New York. Brian Fairbairn was not available, so John Kalodner found another famous producer, Kevin Shirley (JOURNEY, IRON MAIDEN, RUSH, LED ZEPPELIN, DREAM THEATER, BETH HART and many more). Kevin Shirley hated digital recording and instead loved analog. All songs were recorded again with Joey Kramer. Before any of the songs were finally recorded, the band had to play it in the way they played live. Kevin Shirley insisted, so the recording went completely differently than in Florida, which of course had a positive effect on the overall result. About the collaboration with Kevin Shirley, bassist Tom Hamilton adds, “Kevin likes to record in an organic way, with the full band in the studio, using as much of the take as possible.”
The album “Nine Lives” was released on March 18, 1997. The title metaphorically symbolizes the problematic phase of the two years since its inception, which AEROSMITH members remember as if they had actually lived several lives. Originally, the album was called “Vandaloo”, thanks to the elements of Indian music incorporated in several songs, including an intro to the song “Taste of India” by the Indian sarangi player, Ramesh Mishra. The album “Nine Lives” features for the first time the name of the producer, songwriter, and musician Marti Frederiksen, as the co-writer of the three songs: “Something’s Gotta Give”, “Attitude Adjustment” and “Falling Off”. From that time on, Marti Frederiksen not only became part of the history of AEROSMITH, but almost 20 years later one of the key figures in Steven Tyler’s solo project. The list of co-writers again includes the hit maker Desmond Child who co-wrote the mega hit “Hole in My Soul”, which is one of the most popular power ballads in the discography of AEROSMITH. Steven Tyler comments on this song in his memoir “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?”, “It’s one of my favorite songs. That kinda defines getting laid out on the road. I finally put into words how fooling around on someone you love back home could kick back on you. The one thing I’ve learned from being a singer and a poet is that it’s often not what’s been said… but how you lived it.” There was the motif of Lord Krishna with a cat’s head and female breasts, dancing on the head of a snake demon on the original cover artwork of the album. The cover raised controversial reactions within the Hindu community in California. On the day the label was ready to ship 4 million copies of the “Nine Lives” album, its representatives received an official letter from the lawyers. Based on this, the record company had to apologize to them on behalf of the band and subsequently change the cover artwork. The new version of the cover featured the cat tied to a circus knife-thrower’s wheel.
Reactions to the album varied, reviews were not always favorable and not nearly as celebratory as in the case of the previous three albums. Critics blamed the band for collaborating with producers and other business interests for a too calculated approach to ensure commercial success of the music. Nevertheless, after the release of “Nine Lives”, AEROSMITH topped the charts in various countries and held the number 1 position in the Billboard 200 in their home country. In the US, the album also became double platinum. AEROSMITH won the Grammy Award for “Pink”. “Nine Lives” is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable and musically diverse works in the AEROSMITH discography. It is definitely worth mentioning the urgent ballad “Fallen Angels”, which captivates with the atmosphere of widescreen film, and is among the forgotten and underrated tunes in the AEROSMITH repertoire. Steven Tyler summarizes the album, “Very melodic, strangely lyrical, a little weird, very compelling with choruses that you could hang your hat on the first time you hear them – that’s what we do.” John Kalodner was a huge supporter of AEROSMITH and at the same time, one of their biggest fans. He certainly did not hide his enthusiasm about the result of the “Nine Lives” album and his trust in the musicians, “To me, they’re the most talented band in the world. When it comes to making albums, Steven and Joe and the rest of the band are unparalleled in terms of creativity. The new album is their best – combining the cohesiveness of the “Pump” with the universal appeal of the “Get a Grip”.”
AEROSMITH were touring continuously, except when they were working on another new record. After the release of “Nine Lives”, they shut themselves away for two weeks in an empty arena in Hartford, Connecticut and prepared for the upcoming world tour. In addition to the new songs in the repertoire, they also had a new stage set, which they decorated with cats and cobras, just like the album. Most of the members of their touring crew were also new to AEROSMITH. The tour was originally scheduled for one year, but this plan changed after the release of the single “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, which is the most successful hit in AEROSMITH discography to date. The song was written for AEROSMITH by star producer and songwriter Diane Warren. It was originally supposed to be sung by CELINE DION, which fortunately did not happen. If some things are really predestined and meant to happen, this is one of them. The song “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was written directly for Steven Tyler’s voice and it’s hard to imagine anyone else singing the song. Before the idea for the melody came along, Diane had put down the lyrics, which she was inspired for in a television interview with Barbra Streisand’s husband, James Brolin. He said in an interview that he missed Barbra when they were asleep. The song was selected as the soundtrack for the movie, ”Armageddon”, in which Steven Tyler’s beautiful and talented daughter, Liv Tyler, shone. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” catapulted AEROSMITH to the ranks of the most commercially successful performers of all time. Finally, they added the missing puzzles to their collection, and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” became the only single in AEROSMITH’s history to take first place in the Billboard Hot 100. If until then, some skeptics tried to question their position on the music scene, after such a monstrous success, no one would take their words seriously. The worldwide tour was extended for another year. The hit “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” expanded AEROSMITH’s fan base with new fans, many of whom bought a concert ticket mainly to hear live the power ballad, which probably also increased the birth rate in different parts of the world at the time. The world tour ends after two years in July in 1999. For the fans in Europe, this tour was the last possibility for the upcoming long eight years when they could not enjoy live shows of their favorites. Unless they planned a trip to the US, where AEROSMITH continues to perform, one could say, continuously.
The beginning of the new millennium is marked for AEROSMITH in the spirit of work on their thirteenth studio album. The situation is changing rapidly, and the band is not going to the studio together, as was the case with previous albums. In fact, not once during the entire recording process did they meet in the studio at the same time. As if with the arrival of the new millennium, the magic of the era they had started together in the second half of the 1980s, culminating with the megahit “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” disappeared in a way. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry put together the basics of an album in Joe’s home studio in Boneyard. Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer were invited individually to join the process only for the final recording of their parts. After working with various producers, this time Steven Tyler and Joe Perry decided to take care of the production themselves. Marti Frederiksen and Mark Hudson participated in “Just Push Play” as co-producers. Steven Tyler insisted on working with Mark Hudson due to his longstanding collaboration, but differences of opinion between the two of them escalated during the process. “Just Push Play” is the last studio effort Mark Hudson is credited on in the AEROSMITH discography up until now.
While working on new songs, there was also a discrepancy between Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. In their memoirs, they both describe how they perceived the situation, each from their own point of view. Specifically, it was the writing process of the song “Jaded” which became the only and absolutely fundamental hit of the album “Just Push Play”. Joe Perry went to Lake Sunapee for the weekend to see his wife, Billie. While Steven stayed with Marti, and they continued working. Joe reportedly told Steven to let him know if there was a new idea they wanted to work on. He would jump in the car and come because he wasn’t that far from the place they were recording back then. Steven and Marti, meanwhile, composed the song “Jaded” which Joe didn’t know until he returned after the weekend and the song was done. Steven argued that Joe wanted to take care of Billie and that he didn’t think about calling him. Marti told Joe he wanted to call him, but Steven said it wasn’t necessary. In any case, it was the song “Jaded” that AEROSMITH released in December 2000 as a pilot single. The song “Jaded” immediately became a hit in most countries worldwide. For the first time, AEROSMITH presented it live to the public at the American Music Awards. Subsequently, the song “Jaded” was performed in January 2001 as part of the most watched American show, Super Bowl XXXV, together with “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” and “Walk This Way”.
If AEROSMITH had not come up with a hit of the calibre of “Jaded”, Columbia / Sony would allegedly have terminated the contract with them. The musicians learned this news years later from the president of the record company, Don Ienner. But no one knows if this information is true or whether it would actually have happened. The previous album “Nine Lives” launched several controversial reactions among critics, which were significantly multiplied by its successor “Just Push Play”. Many agreed that this was the worst studio effort in AEROSMITH’s discography, and rated some of the songs, such as “Trip Hoppin”, as unnecessary, which may not have appeared on the album at all. However, contradictory reactions didn’t only come up from outside. Opinions on the recordings also differ among the band members themselves, some of whom were not identified with the new material. Many diehard fans, and especially those who grew up on rock ‘n’ roll of the 60s and 70s, do not accept the album “Just Push Play” till today and pretend that it does not even exist in the discography of AEROSMITH. Nevertheless, the record became platinum in the United States a month after its release and scored second in the Billboard 200.
The creative process of each album is influenced by many different aspects, whether it is the setting of individual personalities who participate in its creation, the development of the band or the overall concept and strategy. No wonder musicians sometimes need to step aside and experiment. Especially if they have been on the scene for several decades, or if they simply enjoy experimenting and do not want to be boxed in. It is natural that the musicians enter stages where their opinions on the further development and perception of music differ from each other. It does not have to be just a calculus, which in this case is often used as the main or only argument. And of course, in many cases it is a calculus. Seductive fame and the desire to reach the largest possible audience also play a major role for many individuals, which itself is not a bad thing, as long as the particular personality truly has the necessary prerequisites and the potential to succeed. It depends on the artists what they chose and what they commit themselves to, and the values they profess. Subsequently, of course, it depends mainly on the audience, what they identify with, to whom they give a chance, and how much they follow their own opinions and feelings, or whether they succumb only to detailed marketing strategies, prepared by certain performers, media, or the record companies. It would be possible to discuss this topic endlessly from many points of view and according to the complexity of the individual personalities and perspectives of each of us. The offer is huge, and everyone has the right to choose what resonates with themselves.
What is more than obvious is the fact that the music industry has changed radically since the new millennium. The commonality and cohesion of communities, which in the second half of the 20th century were connected mainly by the love of music and art, are gradually falling apart with the development of modern technologies and social networks. Of course, modern technologies and social networks also have many pluses and are beneficial if used correctly. One of the most troubling aspects of the music industry nowadays is the fact that fans loyalty and their support are being abused. Ticket prices are rising rapidly and conditions at many mostly large events are often inhumane. It happens, for example, that male representatives are the first to be expelled from the front rows by the security people, who sometimes even use physical violence and threats if they refuse to leave their places. Or older women who are also pushed into the back rows. They are replaced by younger girls, who not only strengthen the egos of many musicians, but also currently serve as an attractive marketing tool for videos on social networks. An absolutely unfair approach to the people who are paying huge amount of money for the shows, and who often stand in front of the venues from early morning. Instead of being treated in a pleasant and respectful way, they are subsequently disadvantaged, punished and have no chance to decide what they get for their money. Practices that cannot be accepted and supported from a human point of view, even if you are one of the most devoted fans. For a few minutes of meeting your favorite band, you currently often pay more than you would for a two-week stay by the sea. The level of journalism and the approach to working with photography are also changing rapidly. Instant, and not good quality information or images are increasingly replacing depth and authenticity. The music industry is dominated by businessmen with the practices of political leaders. This is slowly but surely overpowering the very essence of music. One of the fundamental aspects that perfectly enables the transition of music to an artificial world. A world where music can be created by artificial intelligence using selected riffs and sounds from music created by live musicians to create new musical offerings long after the musicians themselves are dead. For many of us, despite all the pitfalls and negative aspects of the cruel world of show business, music still comes first, as an essential part of our lives and a driving force for overcoming even the most difficult obstacles of fate.
“We’re still wedded to what it’s all about – which is the songs. It’s about wanting to present songs to the public and have them love them as much as we do. We still have this insatiable drive to show people what we can do. And that’s about those little four-minute moments called songs – the way they tap into people’s emotions.“
The members of AEROSMITH know all the pros and cons of the music world well, and despite everything they have been through, they continue in the same line-up. They were able to adapt to a time when, if someone is not ready and does not react fast enough, they are out of the game and are immediately replaced by someone much younger at the speed of light. Despite all the quarrels in the band, all the negative reactions of critics and fans, it is necessary to credit Steven Tyler for his stubbornness, innate ability for (un)healthy audacity and his courage to take risks and enter more pop and mainstream spheres, regardless of anyone’s opinion. Although his behavior irritated everyone around him, something he is used to all his life anyway, who knows what the position of AEROSMITH on the music scene would look like after 2000 if it weren’t for the megahit “Jaded”.
“Just Push Play” remains the most controversial album in the whole AEROSMITH discography. The same controversial reactions that the album encountered musically, were also directed at its cover which featured a robotic version of a woman resembling Marilyn Monroe. The experimental work, on the other hand, is welcomed by the younger generation and the fans open to various genres, without a tendency to box in or categorize too much. You can belong to any group and love or hate the album. It definitely is a record that is in a way misunderstood and underrated. Some songs, although not very typical for the AEROSMITH repertoire, deserve more attention. In addition to the most successful hit “Jaded” and the ballad “Fly Away from Here”, it is definitely worth mentioning “Avant Garden” (Liv Tyler’s whispering voice can be heard in the song) or “Sunshine”, which as in the case of the “Jaded” were kind of an experiment with symphonic elements and string arrangements. More in the spirit of AEROSMITH, although more modern, are the title track “Beyond Beautiful” or “Under My Skin”, in which the youngest of Steven Tyler’s daughters, Chelsea Tyler, did the backing vocals. The album “Just Push Play” may lack the blues feeling we are used to from AEROSMITH. On the other hand, with this album the band perfectly fit into the time in which the recordings were made and used all the modern trends of the then music scene. The result of the collaboration of AEROSMITH, Marti Frederiksen and Mark Hudson, is a combination of good quality modern mainstream pop-rock.
“Just Push Play” was released on March 6, 2001. Just days later, on March 19, AEROSMITH was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They were listed as the only band that also had a hit in the charts at the time of the induction. The musicians were inducted into the Hall of Fame by their longtime fan Kid Rock, who brightened the festive moment with a humorous commentary inspired by the album the title of the “Draw the Line” (1977) album: “From what I understand, they drew a line around the world and snorted the whole damn thing.”
AEROSMITH went on tour in support of the album “Just Push Play”; the European leg was previously postponed to 2002 and in the end did not take place at all. The date of September 11, 2001 changed everything from scratch due to the terrorist attacks in New York. AEROSMITH had to cancel an ongoing tour in the United States, and no one had any idea when and under what conditions it would be possible to perform again. Fear alternated with the emotions of regret, grief, and anger, resulting from such a monstrous act, when thousands of people lost their lives. What’s more, everyone realized that America would never be the same country people had known it before. The world had changed, and security measures needed to be tightened, as well as the need to set up stricter safety rules, especially for the big events attended by as many people as AEROSMITH concerts.
For the next five years, the band performed mainly in the USA, Canada, and Japan as well as several concerts in South America. Other countries had to wait till 2007. After this involuntary break, AEROSMITH wanted to give their fans an exceptional experience and, paradoxically, get closer to them at a time when the fear of other possible attacks prevailed in the world. In the next part of the “Just Push Play” tour, AEROSMITH came up with a new vision and something they hadn’t done in their career up to that point. During the concert, the band performed on two stages. Stage A was the standard big stage AEROSMITH usually performed on. The stage B was a type of club stage. Giant screens were hung above the stage so that all fans could watch all the action. The issue of moving from one stage to another needed to be resolved. Joe Perry came up with the idea to go straight through the crowd of fans, but this did not meet with a very positive response at first. The band members feared for their own safety and the madness that could break out in the audience. In the end, however, the idea passed, and even though fans sometimes tried to tear their idols clothes of, touch them, or pull their hair, in the end, accompanied by security, they always got safely where they needed to go.
In July 2002, the two record companies Geffen Records and Columbia / Sony merged to come up with the idea of releasing a collection of the 28 greatest hits of AEROSMITH’s career up to date, selected in chronological order. The collection of hits was enriched with two new songs “Girls of Summer” and “Lay It Down”, which were recorded in Hawaii. The double album is titled “Oh, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits”. Steven Tyler and Marti Frederiksen came up with the idea for “Girls of Summer” and Joe Perry did guitars for it. Joe Perry wasn’t too keen about this tune appearing on another regular AEROSMITH album and told Steven to save it and release it later on his solo album. In the end, it was released on the AEROSMITH album anyway but at Joe Perry’s request, it was not used for the band’s next studio album. For Joe, Tom, Brad and Joey, this song was a waste of time, so none of them appeared in its clip version. “Girls of Summer” became a short-term summer hit, but this song was not one of AEROSMITH’s ultimate classics and soon the song was more or less forgotten.
After the contradictory, but still successful period of the album “Just Push Play”, it was speculated as to what AEROSMITH would come up with next, and whether it would surprise their mainly diehard fans in a good way. The pleas were heard, and the expectations were met. If anyone missed anything typical of AEROSMITH in their previous album, the following “Honkin’ on Bobo” was, in every sense of the word, a return to their roots and helped the band to revisit their beginnings. With the exception of “The Grind” which was the only new song, the album “Honkin‘ on Bobo” is a collection of blues-rock cover versions the musicians grew up listening to. They really nailed it and did the songs in their own way, giving them new life, and moreover, their performances are fabulous in all respects. Steven Tyler is known for his admiration of Janis Joplin and undoubtedly, he is her male version. And even though no song from her repertoire has appeared on this album, Steven is channeling her much more clearly this time than on any other album. Years after their previous collaboration with their greatest producer Jak Douglas, AEROSMITH invited him back to work with them on this album. He has been one of the most important personalities in AEROSMITH’s history. It was he who produced their best and most successful albums in the 1970s. It feels like there is a special bond and connection between him and the band that the musicians had with no other producer. Jack Douglas knows the essence of AEROSMITH and knows the individual members so well that he can naturally get the best out of them if the band is open to it. During the creative process of the “Honkin‘ on Bobo” album, the best that AEROSMITH ever were and everything they built together was at last connected among them.
Steven Tyler was immersed in the idea of composing big pop hits with Marti Frederiksen, while Joe Perry wanted to revive the collaboration between him and Steven and write and produce new songs together, songs in the same or similar spirit they once created together. AEROSMITH had three months to record a new album. It was summer 2003, and this time the band was discussing other plans together. Joe Perry recalled a proposal from one of Columbia / Sony’s directors, Don Ienner, who once told the band that their first effort released under their brand should be a blues record. Joe Perry then suggested the band should do a blues record, not composed of their own songs, but putting together covers that they had listened to all their lives and perform them in their own way. Everyone in the band agreed on the project, and they all started planning together which songs would appear on the album. The title “Honkin‘ on Bobo “ was the idea of Steven Tyler after hearing this phrase somewhere. The band saw the name as a good choice in the context of blues-rock cover versions of their idols. The recording took place again at Boneyard, on Joe Perry’s ranch, not far from Boston. Joe Perry recalls this period in his book “Rocks: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith” as one of the best he has ever experienced in the band’s history. The atmosphere was relaxed, spontaneous, and everyone enjoyed the work on remakes from the beginning phase of selecting the songs until their final versions were done. Fate finally gave the musicians a space where they could enjoy their moments together, jamming without pressure or stress. This comfortable atmosphere can be felt in each and every tone of the album “Honkin‘ on Bobo “. Even the Tyler / Frederiksen duo proved to everyone that this time they were capable of freeing themselves from the need to compose big pop hits and could instead bet on the naturalness and freedom they experienced when they were still enthusiastic music fans, untouched by the cruelty of the music business and pressure from record companies and managements. The song “The Grind” Marti Frederiksen co-wrote together with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry is the proof of it. “The Grind” is the only original AEROSMITH tune on the album which perfectly fits into the tribute blues-rock collection. Although the song was written in 2003, it has the same feel, perhaps as it was written at the same time as the rest of the cover versions on the album from the 50s or 60s. Steven Tyler’s phenomenal and thrilling performance of the song is literally a mindblowing experience. The song is top-notch in every sense of the word.
Originally the album was supposed to be recorded without guests, just the band and no one else. Suddenly there was a chance that a blues fan definitely cannot refuse. Excellent pianist Johnnie Johnson, an old CHUCK BERRY bandmate, visited Joe Perry’s ranch. In addition, Johnnie Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the same day as AEROSMITH. He recorded brilliant piano parts in the songs” Shame, Shame, Shame” (SMILEY LEWIS cover) and “Temperature” (LITTLE WALTER cover) on the “Honkin’ on Bobo album”. If it weren’t for this spontaneous decision, there would probably be no other similar opportunity for AEROSMITH because Johnnie Johnson passed away in April of 2005. One of the guests who appeared on the album, was the extraordinarily talented alternative rock musician, Tracy Bonham. Tracy sang two covers from MISSISSIPPI McDOWELL, a duet with Joe Perry, “Back Back Train” and “Jesus Is on the Main Line” with Steven Tyler. Of course, they could not omit at least one song from THE ROLLING STONES among the cover versions, and the choice was “You Gotta Move”. A proper blues album cannot do without the honor of one of the most important characters of the post-war blues scene, MUDDY WATERS, whom AEROSMITH honored with the remake of “I’m Ready”. AEROSMITH had already covered one of FLEETWOOD MAC’s songs, “Rattlesnake Shake”, in the past. This time they chose “Stop Messin‘ Around”. Joe Perry sings and plays guitar accompanied by Steven Tyler on harp This is now a part of every AEROSMITH concert. Steven Tyler came up with the idea to cover BO DIDDLEY’s, “Road Runner”, which is a really great opener for the whole album. AEROSMITH also did a beautiful tribute to ARETHA FRANKLIN with the song “I Never Loved a Girl”, originally called “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You)”. This was ARETHA FRANKLIN’s first big hit, released as a single on Atlantis Records in 1967. AEROSMITH paid tribute to their predecessors magnificently and with all its nobility. The album “Honkin’ on Bobo” was released on March 30, 2004. Due to the blues-rock sound and the lack of big hit songs, the label did not expect a major commercial success of the album. An even bigger surprise happened with the sale of 160,000 copies within the first week after its release.
AEROSMITH again embarked on a tour that was stopped in September 2004 by Hepatitis C, which Steven Tyler struggled with. Other health issues did not take that long to follow. Steven subsequently underwent throat surgery and also faced foot problems. All activity around AEROSMITH was suspended, so Joe Perry decided to return to his solo project after many years.
Joe Perry’s solo album, simply titled “Joe Perry”, was released on May 9, 2005. With the exception of the two cover versions, “Vigilante Man” (WOODY GUTHRIE) and “Crystal Ship” (THE DOORS), he wrote all the songs for the album himself and recorded all the instruments, except the drums for the song “Mercy”, recorded by his sound engineer Paul Caruso, who also co-produced the record with Joe. The song “Mercy” was nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best Instrumental Performance. Only two Joe Perry concerts took place in support of the album, in New York and Boston, where other AEROSMITH members also came to support him. Joe Perry’s solo album is probably one of the few highlights of the second half of the first decade of the new millennium.
The following years were literally critical for AEROSMITH, and fate tempted them with one difficult test after another on their way. Not only in terms of their careers, but also in their private lives. Out of five marriages, only two will survive. Tom and Terry Hamilton, who have been married since 1975 and whose marriage is the longestrunning bond in the history of AEROSMITH. Joe and Billie Perry got married ten years later in 1985 and, thanks to their mutual affinity, they also remain among the rare percentage of the most stable couples in show business and especially in the world of rock ’r’ roll. Steven Tyler and Teresa Barrick divorced in 2006 after a long 17 years of marriage. The same scenario awaits Brad Whitford a year later, as well Joey Kramer in 2009.
As with Steven Tyler, the other band members go through some serious health issues. In 2006, Tom Hamilton was diagnosed with throat and tongue cancer. He was forced to leave the ongoing tour due to the treatment and was replaced by David Hull who had been part of Joe Perry’s solo project. Until then, Tom Hamilton had not missed a single AEROSMITH show in his entire career. Neither was Joe Perry spared from health problems. He faced excruciating pain in his right knee. There was no treatment that would have worked successfully, and the pain escalated until the knee was fully replaced in the end. Steven Tyler had a really heavy load to deal with. Sudden divorce and a bunch of health complications, he recovered from the whole year. In his memoir “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?”, he describes this period as one of the worst in his life. He was broken, and the tears he hid from his children, were left to cry secretly only in the moments he was alone. Maybe the song “Hole in My Soul” from 1997 was also a kind of premonition on Steven’s part of the hand fate would deal him almost a decade later. “There’s a hole in my soul that’s been killing me forever. It’s a place where a garden never grows” – the words taken from the chorus of the song “Hole in My Soul”, truly speak for themselves. Indeed, it feels like at the time something broke within him, something that had not yet healed, and a certain part of his true self still remained somewhere in the past.
AEROSMITH continued to perform if the situation and the health of the musicians allowed it. But the relationships between them were strained. Steven Tyler distanced himself from the rest of the band, both personally and professionally. He left the band official management and signed a new contract with the team that represented him only, separately from the band. A surprising decision considering the fact that AEROSMITH were represented at the time by Howard Kaufman, who had a reputation as one of the greatest professionals and the most experienced managers in the music industry. A wild period when relations in the band were tense that they hardly communicated with each other. The tense atmosphere was obvious even during the shows, but fortunately it did not affect the quality of their performances. Many fans perceived the whole situation and rightfully feared for the future of the band. The media has publicly speculated about Steven Tyler’s departure from AEROSMITH and, of course, they colored the whole situation to suit their own agenda, for their own profit and the way scandalous headlines would attract as many readers as possible. The situation came to a head after the fall of Steven Tyler off the stage at a concert in South Dakota in 2009. In interviews, Steven presents his version, in which he claims that no one from the band showed any interest in him after the accident, no one called him or visited him in hospital, and this caused him a lot of pain. The others state the exact opposite. They were afraid of Steven; they called him, but they didn’t reach him until they finally received a letter from his management stating that Steven didn’t want to communicate with anyone at the moment, and he already had called everyone he wanted to talk to in person.
AEROSMITH started planning to work on another studio album again. This was being pushed not only by the record company, but also the musicians in the band felt the need to come up with new material after so many years. According to the contract, the band owed one more album to the recording company. In order to become independent artists, they had to fulfill their commitment. The situation was still far from easy or comfortable in the band. The recording was postponed, even though a studio was already booked. Steven Tyler decided to build his own brand and planned to release his first solo album, which did not happen due to the terms of the AEROSMITH contract with Columbia / Sony. At the time, Joey Kramer was working on his own unique memoir, “Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top,”, released on June 30, 2009. The book offers an honest and in-depth insight at the personality of Joey Kramer, who finally got a chance to express not only all that was happening around AEROSMITH from his own perspective, but also to reveal more of his private life and to talk openly about everything he had struggled for since his childhood.
“I’m lucky that I still personally find so much that is rewarding and fulfilling in music. That’s what it’s always been about for me – not the money or the fame. I just love to play drums. I know I still have a lot to learn, which is why, whenever we perform, I always go out and listen to the act that’s opening for us, to keep up with what the young guys are doing.“
Joe Perry also used the uncertain period around AEROSMITH to prepare his fifth solo album. This time he invited the talented German singer Hagen Groh to collaborate with him. Hagen was sometimes compared to Steven Tyler for the color of his voice. Probably the best act in Joe Perry’s solo career, entitled “Have Guitar, Will Travel”, was released on October 6, 2009. The album earned very favorable reviews from music critics and fans alike. The album was also supported by manager Howard Kaufman, who pointed out the fact that, in order for Joe Perry to go on tour, he needed to have a singer in the band who was capable of singing some of AEROSMITH’s biggest classics. Hagen Grohe fit perfectly into Joe Perry’s project. Howard Kaufman took care of the release of the album and its distribution. Joe Perry and the band went on a successful tour with MÖTLEY CRÜE and were also honored to be a part of the UK leg of the Paul Rodgers and BAD COMPANY reunion tour.
Another highlight in this dark era of AEROSMITH was the release of their video game “Guitar Hero”: AEROSMITH were the first band in the world to have their own music video game. Its sales significantly exceeded the sales of other music video games. By April 2010, it had sold over 3.6 million copies. In addition to profits that surpassed the sales of their latest album “Honkin‘ on Bobo”, thanks to “Guitar Hero”, AEROSMITH were discovered by a whole generation of new fans.
Before AEROSMITH could finally begin working on the new album, another issue the musicians were fed up with, had to be resolved. Steven Tyler was invited to join the jury of the famous and popular show, American Idol. Even in this case, each of the parties had a different point of view on the situation. The band learnt about Steven’s new engagement at the same time as this news was publicly spread. Steven defended himself by saying that if he had told them his intention in advance, they would talk it out and be jealous of him. The others deny this. Whether someone agreed with Steven’s decision or it was disapproved by many fans, it was an opportunity which comes once in a lifetime and it also helped the band in some ways, but not in a way that would help to increase the sale of their records. It was one of Steven’s dreams come true, and he was truly passionate about his role. He managed to record a new album without even missing the studio session once. At the same time, he released his first solo single, the fresh summer hit “It Feels So Good”, which he composed together with Marti Frederiksen at the same time as the songs “Girls of Summer” and “Lay It Down” were written. The video was directed by Ray Kay, who also produced videos for LADY GAGA, JUSTIN BIEBER or BRITNEY SPEARS. Nicole Scherzinger, best known as the PUSSYCAT DOLLS’ frontwoman, who did the backing vocals for the song, and also performed in its video version. The single and video were released on May 10, 2011. Steven Tyler first presented his new music two days later at American Idol, where he appeared as a jury for two seasons in a row alongside JENNIFER LOPEZ and RANDY JACKSON. Steven Tyler was extremely busy at the time. Apart from the jury and recording duties, he was also working on his memoir “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?”, which was released in January 2012.
The band locked themselves in the studio and finally started working intensely on the new material throughout the summer of 2011, and the recording process continued until April 2012. The main producer of AEROSMITH’s fifteenth studio effort “Music from Another Dimension” could be none other than their best producer Jack Douglas. The album was also co-produced by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. In terms of writing songs, this time all AEROSMITH members were finally given the chance to show their creativity. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry dominate the album as the main songwriters / co-writers. Steven Tyler is credited with a total of eleven songs and Joe Perry with seven, four of which are lyrically and musically his complete solo efforts. AEROSMITH were finally catching up with what they started sometime in 2006 after Steven Tyler had recovered from throat surgery. It took a long six years, and the musicians, in between various longer or shorter breaks, put together all the songs which in the end appeared on the final version of their fifteenth studio album. Their latest original material came out in the form of the two tracks “Sedona Sunrise” and “The Devil’s Got a New Disguise”, featured on the compilation “The Very Best of Aerosmith: The Devil’s Got a New Disguise”, released in 2006. After a collection of the blues cover versions from 2004, titled “Honkin’ on Bobo”, AEROSMITH released a new album after eight years. A total of eleven years had passed since they released their last album featuring their own material (“Just Push Play”, 2002). Until then, this was the longest break in the band’s history between the release of individual studio albums.
The album “Music from Another Dimension” is, in terms of collaborations, a mutual work of the band and several key personalities who had contributed to their success in the past. The band also invited several other guests who appeared on the AEROSMITH studio album for the first time. One of them was the popular country singer Carrie Underwood, who sang a duet with Steven Tyler in the song “Can’t Stop Lovin You”. The power ballad with country elements also seemed to foreshadow the direction of further musical development by Steven Tyler, who was accompanied a few years later during his solo tour by Marti Frederiksen and his band THE LOVING MARY BAND. Marti also participated in Steven Tyler’s first solo work – “We’re All Somebody from Somewhere”, which saw the light of day on July 15, 2016. Marti Frederiksen had been collaborating with AEROSMITH regularly since the second half of the 90s and his name appears on the album “Music from Another Dimension” in the context of co-writing music, lyrics or as a co-producer in four other songs: “Beautiful”, “What Could Have Been Love”, “Lover Alot” and one bonus track “Sunny Side of Love”.
Among some other guests were also a son of the drummer Joey Kramer, Jesse Kramer, and a guitar tech of guitarist Brad Whitford, Marco Moir, who co-wrote the song “Lover Alot”. Steven Tyler’s eldest daughter, Mia Tyler, also appeared on the AEROSMITH song for the first time as a backing vocalist on the “Beautiful”, which is without doubt one of the catchiest songs on the album. She was the one Steven wrote the song “Mia” for, shortly after she was born. The song came out in 1979 on the album “Night in the Ruts”. Julian Lennon, son of a member of the legendary THE BEATLES, John Lennon, was also one of the interesting names who did the backing vocals for the title track “Luv XXX”. “Luv XXX” and “Out Go the Lights” are the only two songs written by the famous duo Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. That was the first time in almost twenty years that they have composed a song together. The last one was “Fever” from the album “Get A Grip” in 1993.
In the context of future collaborations, one cannot fail to notice another parallel that was probably the seed of the interesting music group HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES, which was formed less than three years later, in 2015. Joe Perry composed the song “Freedom Fighters”; he also put down the lyrics for and sang together with the star actor Johnny Depp and musician and producer Bruce Witkin. All three subsequently became part of the HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES project. The other two tracks on the album which Joe Perry composed, sang and produced, are the songs “Something” and Joe’s confession to his beloved wife Billie, “Oasis in the Night”, which appeared among the bonuses on the deluxe edition. Bassist Tom Hamilton who, like guitarist Brad Whitford, had finally been given space for the first time since the release of “Pump” in 1989. His middle tempo song “Tell Me” can be considered as one of the TOP 5 songs of the whole album. This time, Tom Hamilton also got his chance as a singer. There is a bonus track he wrote himself, called “Up on the Mountain”, in which he plays the bass and sings at the same time. The backing vocals were sung by Steven Tyler. Thanks to the combination of these two voices, this tune is unique and uncommon in AEROSMITH discography. This song would definitely deserve its place on the standard version of the album. Neither Brad Whitford nor Joey Kramer had their only own effort on the album, although they are credited as the co-writers of several songs. For Joey Kramer, this is the first time since 1987 when the album “Permanent Vacation” has been released. All three are credited together as co-writers of the songs “Beautiful”, “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” and “Lover Alot”. Brad Whitford is also the co-writer of “Street Jesus” and Joey Kramer co-wrote the tune “Closer.”
After a major success of the hit “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, AEROSMITH have another song from Diane Warren in their repertoire, the song “We All Fall Down”. As in the first case, it is an emotional ballad, which is most powerful and at the same time the best ballad of the whole album. Apart from the band members, Diane Warren is the only one who is credited as a solo writer of the lyrics and music for the song “We All Fall Down”. For all other songs, at least one AEROSMITH member is being credited. Unfortunately, the song was far from achieving such a huge commercial success as “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”. The times changed rapidly and the period when AEROSMITH rolled the charts with heartbreaking ballads is a thing of the past. This time, the star names didn’t help much anymore and had more of a personal meaning for the band members and their devoted fans, rather than in terms of marketing and promotion itself. The song “Another Last Goodbye” was written by Steven Tyler together with another renowned composer and producer, Desmond Child, who was behind several successful AEROSMITH hits in the past. “Another Last Goodbye” didn’t get much attention either. It was their first collaboration in fifteen years since the release of “Nine Lives” (1997). The list of co-writers also includes the name of Jim Vallance, who first collaborated with AEROSMITH on the album “Permanent Vacation” (1987). This time he did not participate in the writing process of any new songs. The band chose one tune from their archive and reworked the song “Legendary Child”, which was composed by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Jim Vallance. It was first recorded in the early stages of preparations of the album “Get a Grip” in 1991 but had not been officially released before. “Legendary Child” was also the first single from the album “Music from Another Dimension” which was released on May 23, 2012. A day earlier, AEROSMITH presented “Legendary Child” live in the finale of American Idol. On the same day, Steven Tyler’s era in American Idol ended.
“Once again, in spite of everything, AEROSMITH the band that could survive anything, was still intact, a major miracle in the history of embattled bands playing this thing called rock and roll.“
The long-awaited AEROSMITH studio album “Music from Another Dimension” was released on November 6, 2012. The day before, on November 5, 2012, AEROSMITH organized a unique performance for their fans which they gave them for free. They returned to the place of their beginnings, and the whole set took place right in front of their apartment on 1325 Commonwealth Ave, where the band members lived together from 1970 to 1972. The set contained a total of nine songs, mostly the greatest classics of the 70s and was enriched with two new tunes from the album “Music from Another Dimension”, the songs “Oh Yeah” and “Lover Alot”. This unique event attracted around 40,000 loyal fans and was also the biggest promotional event associated with the release of their latest studio album.
The album was released at absolutely the wrong time for CDs and other physical formats. Only the most devoted fans, known for decades as the Blue Army, really bought the physical version of the album. After the first week, 65,000 copies were sold, which was 100,000 less than in the case of the previous album “Honkin’ on Bobo”. This time, the Columbia / Sony music recording company did not take much care of greater promotion either. Their long-lasting collaboration was definitely over after the release of the album. There was not much left of the enthusiasm they shared in the 1970s and after the resumption of collaboration in the second half of the 1990s.
After the year 2000, a lot of people lost their jobs and recording companies did not hire as many people as in the past. The Internet and ever-evolving technologies have given people quick access to everything, as well as the ability to avoid artists and publishers and download albums illegally for free. The recording companies, mainly the big ones are trying to gain absolute control over everything, and the contracts with artists are much stricter than in previous decades. The struggle for survival, newly established business models and marketing, significantly dominate the interests or dedication of the fans. In the management of mostly larger recording companies, you rarely meet a real fan who works from the heart. The last AEROSMITH studio album from a business point of view did not meet their recording company’s expectations. Nevertheless, it peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 and the fans loved it.
On one album, AEROSMITH combined everything they musically represented from the beginning of their career to the present. In some contexts, they also indicated the future direction of some of the band members. The album is a combination of blues-rock, typical for AEROSMITH mainly in the 70s and modern mainstream pop rock with which they introduced themselves to the world in the second half of the 80s, after their rebirth and spectacular return to the music scene. The complex summarization from a musical point of view and also in the context of collaborations, in a way foreshadowed that this could be the last studio effort in the AEROSMITH discography for a long time, if not the last one in their career. Over the years, there have been rumors that the musicians will start working on new material again. Due to the overall situation, they were considering the possibility of releasing new songs in the form of an EP, which has become a trend in recent years. Since then, the band have not come up with any new songs or an EP. Although they were still together as a band, everyone also shifted their interest to their other projects and took a break from everything connected with AEROSMITH. After the contract with Sony / Columbia was over, they could finally do what they wanted. Each of them used their freedom in their own way.
In 2014, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry teamed up with the Californian Children’s Chorus to present a new version of AEROSMITH classic hit “Dream On” to the world. The children’s choir’s unique combination of angelic voices with Steven Tyler’s hoarse rock voice, accompanied by piano and excellent guitar by Joe Perry, gave this composition a completely different dimension. The new version of “Dream On” was intended for charity purposes as a tribute on the oneyear anniversary of the bombing attacks that occurred in 2013 during the Boston Marathon. The song was released as a single under the title “Dream On (Boston Strong!)” as well as a video from a television special “Dream On: Stories from Boston’s Strongest that ESPN put together as a tribute to the victims.
At the beginning of 2015, Joe Perry released his first autobiographical book mapping everything from the beginning of his career in AEROSMITH and the happenings outside the band and in his private life. Joe Perry is one of the more closed personalities and prefers to play music rather than anything else. He also gives interviews only rarely. Fans and many musicians alike welcomed his book, “ROCKS: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith” with open arms. Joe Perry offers a unique insight into his life and his own point of view on everything essential in the history of AEROSMITH, as well as the brotherly-rival relationship between him and Steven Tyler. Steven Tyler wrote his version of the truth in his memoir “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?”. So, it is extremely interesting to compare how each of them perceived the same situations. Both memoirs are truly impressive and especially for the rock fans valuable collections of information, knowledge and rich life experiences, written by two of the greatest legends of the rock scene.
In 2017, AEROSMITH announced the AERO VEDERCI BABY! TOUR world tour which was supposed to last several years and could be their last extensive tour. Of course, such a message caused various reactions among the fans. Everyone was looking forward to the tour; on the other hand, the fans were becoming more and more aware that every such show could be the last AEROSMITH performance they would have the opportunity to attend in their lives. Especially for those who don’t live in the United States, where there would still be a better chance of experiencing some of their performances. At the time, no one knew that AEROSMITH’s shows, like everyone else’s, would be stopped for a long time by completely different circumstances than the end of their careers. In addition, the news of the last worldwide tour came at a time when the celebrations of their 50th anniversary on the music scene were slowly but surely approaching. In August 2018, AEROSMITH revealed its plans associated with celebrations of their 50 years in rock on the American Today Show. The band understood the celebrations magnificently and prepared an unusual, but financially also quite expensive experience for their fans. From April 6, 2019, the series of resident concerts “Deuces Are Wild” took place at the Park Theater located in the MGM resorts in Las Vegas. The concert schedule first offered a total of 18 dates from April to July 2019. As AEROSMITH had not played a single show in the USA since 2015, the interest in their performances was huge. In the end, 50 concerts are planned, 9 of which were moving to the east coast, and several summer festivals were also scheduled. Unlike all previous concert tours, this time AEROSMITH offered its fans a unique opportunity to enjoy a concert with the band members right from the stage. In addition to the entrance fee, fans can pay a VIP tour, where, accompanied by the host, they have the opportunity to visit an exhibition mapping the entire rock ‘n’ roll history of the band. The attention of many visitors is attracted by the first van that AEROSMITH traveled with across the United States at the beginning of their career. It was recently discovered thanks to one of the collectors. Other attractions included for example pinball machines. Before the concert, a comprehensive history of AEROSMITH was projected, which lasted about half an hour. Before each show, the dancing characters, known from the covers of AEROSMITH albums, also entertained the visitors. The whole show was thought through and refined to the last detail. Due to its concept, it was not realistic to organize something like this in other countries outside the USA. There was speculation about a similar concept which was meant to be implemented in London and for the implementation of which it would probably be necessary to build its own resort.
The celebrations of the 50th anniversary in Las Vegas, as well as the planned upcoming European tour, were stopped by the Covid pandemic in the first quarter of 2020. The same year, exactly 50 years have passed since the birth of the legend named AEROSMITH. During the lockdown, many artists are creative and highly active on social networks. The state of closure unlocks the potential of creativity in them, thanks to which we experienced a lot of interesting music efforts during this period, which mean both a hope and a kind of driving force to us in the tough times like these. AEROSMITH does not come up with anything new even during this period. They use social networks more to bring back memories from the past. The time will tell whether they are using the situation for a kind of reset and if their fans, who are eagerly awaiting more news, will be surprised by new recordings after years. Or if they will continue as a live band touring the world when finally possible. AEROSMITH has convinced us several times of their amazing ability to adapt to any time and may surprise us again with something they have not done in their career. In any case, let us hope for the best so we can continue to fully enjoy the five incredibly talented musicians in the same line-up that has fundamentally influenced and enriched the lives of many of us.